Thursday, 22 March 2012

Comfort eating without the guilt: My Favourite Chicken Soup

After a day like today, a person's gonna reach for something... a bottle of gin maybe, or a tub of ice cream... However, I may be down but I am certainly not out, and my determination to stick to my get-less-flabby-by-bikini-season diet still overules.

And here lies the magic of comfort eating in that it really doesn't have to be bad for you. Chicken soup is the perfect thing to warm a bruised soul, especially when it's spicy and filling like this one.

This recipe is the one I've ended up at after many attempts to make the Perfect Chicken Comfort Soup, and has its roots in both oriental and good old English cuisine.

No picture, sorry (I ate it too quickly).

1/2 onion, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, still in their shells
1 medium chicken breast
1/2 lime, cut into 4 chunks
2 small handfulls dried soup mix (lentils, split peas, barley, etc)
2cm root ginger
2 lemongrass sticks, tough outer shell removed
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced thinly (or, as I used this evening, approx 6 slices of pickled jalapeno chillies from a jar- these work really well as they're piquante and add a sharpness to the soup)
2 bayleaves
4 thin strips of lemon rind (careful to just get the yellow skin, none of the white rind which is bitter)
1/4 pack creamed coconut, chopped up small
dash soy sauce
plenty of pepper
preheat the oven at 180 C

1. First put the whole chicken breast into a small casserole dish, with the pieces of lime. Cut 4 or 5 slices into 1 of the garlic cloves and put it, whole, into the dish. Cover and place in the oven for approx 10-15mins.
2. Meanwhile fry the onion in a little oil until soft.
3. When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the dish and cut into strips approx 5cm by 1cm thick. Place these in the pan with the onion and cook for 2mins, before pouring over about 2 pints boiling water.
4. Now take the garlic from the dish, remove it's skin and squash it to a pulp, then add it to the pan. Squeeze the flesh from the lime pieces and add this too. Then peel and finely chop the remaining garlic clove and add this, along with the bay leaves, lemongrass, chilli, ginger, soup mix and strips of lemon skin.
5. Bring the soup to the boil and let it simmer for approx 25mins, until the lentils are cooked but still have a bit of bite to them.
6. Pick out the bay leaves, lemongrass, ginger and lemon skin and discard before adding the coconut. Add soy sauce and pepper to taste. Cook for another 5mins to ensure all the coconut has melted, then get it down you and feel the love!
Serves 2 (or one particularly sad and hungry soul)

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